HOLCOMB CAMPAIGN FACES PERIL OF MANAGING PANDEMIC: Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb has put himself in the public spotlight—or, if you will, the crosshairs of public opinion—nearly every weekday for the last two months, hosting press conferences about the state’s response to the coronavirus crisis (IBJ). It is not an easy job, as the governor and his staff must address new fatalities, respond to questions that have no easy answer, and ask residents to make difficult sacrifices to beat an enemy we don’t totally understand. This also happens to be an election year. On one hand, Holcomb has the opportunity to show voters how he can handle a dire crisis—and without having to spend a dime from his immense campaign war chest. On the other hand, if he makes an obvious mistake or miscalculates how quickly the state should reopen, it’ll be in front of millions of voters with a deep, vested interest in the outcome.

FED'S POWELL EXPECTS 'SUBSTANTIAL' REBOUND: Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell expressed optimism Sunday that the U.S. economy can begin to recover from a devastating recession in the second half of the year, assuming the coronavirus doesn’t erupt in a second wave. But he suggested that a full recovery won’t likely be possible before the arrival of a vaccine (AP). In an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes,” Powell noted that the economy was fundamentally healthy before the virus struck suddenly and forced widespread business shutdowns and tens of millions of layoffs. Once the outbreak has been contained, he said, the economy should be able to rebound “substantially.” Powell offered an overall positive message while warning that it would take much longer for the economy to regain its health than it took for it to collapse with stunning speed. “In the long run, and even in the medium run,” the chairman said, “you wouldn’t want to bet against the American economy. This economy will recover. And that means people will go back to work. Unemployment will get back down. We’ll get through this.”

LAKE COUNTY RESTAURANTS REOPENING TODAY: Starting Monday, people will be able to sit down for a dine-in restaurant meal and get a haircut in Lake County for the first time since March (Pete, NWI Times). Under Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb's Back on Track Indiana plan to reopen the state, restaurants and bars that serve food in Lake County can reopen at 50% capacity with some restrictions. Bars must remain closed. No live entertainment is allowed to avoid crowds. Servers and kitchen staffs must wear masks or other face coverings. Barbershops, hair salons, nail salons, spas, tattoo parlors and other personal service businesses can open by appointment only. Employees must wear face coverings, work stations must be spaced out 6 feet apart, and customers should wear face coverings. Not wearing a mask can pose a risk that businesses that were allowed to reopen will be closed again after a spike in cases, which occurred with bars and nightclubs in South Korea. "It has been a long, long time since we closed down for COVID-19, but per Gov. Holcomb’s 'Back on Track' initiative, Lake County is set to reopen on Monday, May 18," Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce President Dave Ryan said. "Stay safe, practice social distancing, wash your hands, wear your masks, and we will see you very soon."

GOV. DeWINE PROMISES ENFORCEMENT OF SOCIAL DISTANCING IN BARS: Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine says state officials will do “whatever we have to do” to enforce social distancing and other protective measures if bars and restaurants fail to restrain crowds as the state eases coronavirus measures (AP). He said ultimately “it’s going to come to Ohioans doing what Ohioans have done for the last two months” in largely heeding social distance measures. DeWine was responding to images of a packed Columbus restaurant-bar Friday on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday morning. The Ohio Restaurant Association said it believed reports of establishments not operating in accord with the governor’s guidelines were “isolated incidents.”

U.S. COVID DEATHS PASS 90K: Coronavirus deaths in the United States have topped 90,000, but President Trump claims the number of infections are going down as states reopen their economies (Daily Mail). On Sunday, the United States reached a grim milestone when the number of Americans who've died of the coronavirus reached 90,068. The number of deaths rose by at least 519  since Saturday, which recorded a death toll of 89,549. Despite the growing number, President Trump on Sunday claimed that coronavirus cases were going down in the Untied States. 'The number of Coronavirus cases is strongly trending downward throughout the United States, with few exceptions. Very good news, indeed,' Trump wrote on Twitter. 

CDC PUSHES BACK AT WHITE HOUSE CRITICISM: A senior official from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday offered a pointed rebuke of White House trade adviser Peter Navarro’s scathing criticism of the top health agency in the latest sign of growing tension between the CDC and the White House (CNN). “We should remind Mr. Navarro that the CDC is a federal agency part of the administration. The CDC director is an appointed position, and Dr. (Robert) Redfield was appointed by President (Donald) Trump,” the official told CNN. “If there is criticism of the CDC, ultimately Mr. Navarro is being critical of the President and the man who President Trump placed to lead the agency.” The comments come after Navarro said the CDC “let the country down” on testing during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Early on in this crisis, the CDC, which really had the most trusted brand around the world in this space — really let the country down with the testing. Not only did they keep the testing within the bureaucracy they had a bad test and that set us back,” Navarro said.

TRUMP WANTS GOLF CROWDS BACK (WITHOUT MASKS): President Donald Trump’s idea of golf getting back to normal is having thousands of fans who aren’t wearing masks in attendance and “practically standing on top of each other” (AP). Trump joined the NBC broadcast Sunday of “TaylorMade Driving Relief,” a Skins game involving Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson against Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff. It was the first live golf on television since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down golf and other sports on March 12. The PGA Tour plans to return on June 11 at the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas. The tour has said it will not have fans for at least a month. “After that, hopefully, it will be back,” Trump said in his interview with NBC host Mike Tirico. “We really want to see it back to normal so when we have all these thousands, tens of thousands of people going to your majors and going to golf tournaments, we want them to be having that same experience. We don’t want them having to wear masks and be doing what we’ve been doing for the last number of months. Because that’s not getting back to normal."

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: Attorney General Curtis Hill begins his 30-day suspension today, not knowing whether he will return to his offices (in Elkhart as well as the Statehouse). The Indiana Supreme Court will determine sometime this week what his professional fate will be. Indiana Republican delegates will determine his political course. - Brian A. Howey

Presidential 2020

DEM DELEGATES DON'T WANT TO ATTEND DNC: Three months before their national convention is to kick off in Milwaukee, Democratic Party officials are planning for three scenarios depending on the severity of the coronavirus pandemic at the time. But the planners face a substantial problem in putting on the quadrennial event that is recognizable to Americans as the traditional launch of the presidential general election campaign: Many of the delegates don’t want to go (New York Times). Interviews with 59 members of the Democratic National Committee and superdelegates who will formally nominate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in August found that the vast majority of them don’t want to risk their own health or the health of others by traveling to Milwaukee and congregating inside the convention facilities.

SWING STATE REPUBLICANS SWEAT ABOUT PANDEMIC: Donald Trump has made clear he will attack Joe Biden unmercifully in order to ensure the election is a choice between him and Joe Biden — rather than an up-or-down vote on the president’s handling of the coronavirus (Politico). Scott Walker has a different view, at least when it comes to Trump's chances in the all-important battleground of Wisconsin. “I think it still boils down to a referendum on the president. They’ll beat up on Biden and they’ll raise some concerns,” said the former two-term Republican governor of Wisconsin, who lost his seat in 2018. But in the end, if people felt good about their health and the state of the economy, Trump will probably carry Wisconsin. If not, Walker said, “it’s much more difficult” for the president. Walker is not alone among swing-state Republicans in his assessment of the president’s political prospects. Interviews with nearly a dozen former governors, members of Congress, and other current and former party leaders revealed widespread apprehension about Trump’s standing six months out from the election.

Sunday Talk

INGLESBY 'OPTIMISTIC' ABOUT VACCINE: With the entire world clinging to any good news on the fight against coronavirus, Dr. Tom Inglesby of Johns Hopkins preached measured optimism on today's "Meet the Press" about the timeframe for a vaccine.  While he admitted that the idea of having a vaccine by the end of the year would have seemed "completely unrealistic" to start the year, he's now more encouraged. "I don't think we should bank on it. But we should hold out some level of hope that if everything goes in the right direction we could possibly see vaccine by the end of the year," he said. But as the world waits for news on the vaccine front, the immediate question is how to reopen safely. Inglesby said it's "appropriate" for states to begin to consider how to reopen "as safely as possible."  He noted that while it's "good news" that the overall top-line numbers are trending down, there are a few important questions communities need to ask as they try to relax restrictions: What do the numbers look like in your specific community? Are hospitalizations still going enough? Are there enough ventilators to handle a "new flare?" And even if places are on the right side of those questions, Inglesby stressed the importance of continuing to be physically distant and wearing cloth masks, as well as committing to robust contact tracing.

NAVARRO PANS CDC: White House trade adviser Peter Navarro on Sunday faulted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on its handling of coronavirus testing, saying the CDC “really let the country down.” NBC’s Chuck Todd asked Navarro on “Meet the Press” about the lack of a CDC briefings over the past month and whether President Trump has “confidence” in the CDC during the pandemic. “Early on in this crisis, the CDC which really had the most trusted brand around the world in this space, really let the country down with the testing. Because not only did they keep the testing within the bureaucracy, they had a bad test. And that did set us back,” Navarro said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

GOTTLIEB SAYS VACCINE LIKELY IN 2021: A coronavirus vaccine likely won't be available for widespread distribution until 2021, former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Sunday. The health expert said there are a "lot of uncertainties" when going from scaling up manufacturing of a vaccine from an experimental basis to get quantities available for the wider population. "When you try to scale up and get volume, a lot of things can go wrong, a lot of things can be delayed. It's very hard to get to the point where you're manufacturing at high, high quantities," Gottlieb said on CBS's "Face the Nation." "I would say thats' probably more likely a 2021 event that we're going to have a vaccine available in sufficient quantities to mass inoculate the population," he added.

PELOSI STRESSES URGENCY OF RELIEF BILL: Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Sunday stressed the urgency of passing the next coronavirus relief bill as Republicans suggest waiting to see how state reopenings and the distribution of funds already allocated in previous stimulus packages impact the country. “Time is very important. We have lost time, but, again, setting aside how we got here, we can not take a pause,” Pelosi said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “They may think it’s OK to pause, but people are hungry across America. Hunger doesn't take a pause. People are jobless across America. That doesn’t take a pause. People don't know how they’re going to pay their rent across the country. We have to address this with humanity,” she added.

SANDERS PUSHES 'PAYCHECK GUARANTEE': Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Sunday that the latest coronavirus relief bill should include guarantees that workers will continue to receive their paychecks and benefits. The former 2020 presidential said on ABC’s “This Week” that he thought the House-passed HEROES Act was “significant,” but he wanted the Senate to “improve” with a paycheck security process that follows European countries’ examples. The Vermont senator said such a program “says to every worker in America, 'You will continue to receive your paycheck and the other benefits which you had when you were on the job, and when this crisis is over, hopefully sooner than later, you're just going to go back to work.' ”

SANDERS SAYS SUPPORTERS WILL BACK BIDEN: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Sunday pushed back on a former aide who said presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is not doing enough to attract his formal progressive rival's supporters, saying the "vast majority" of them consider President Trump to be the “most dangerous president in modern history.” "Your former campaign manager Jeff Weaver put out a memo this week where he warned that Vice President Biden is falling far short with your supporters, the supporters who supported you during the primary campaign that he's going to need in November. Is he right about that?” host George Stephanopoulos asked Sanders on ABC's "This Week." “I think, at the end of day, they will be voting for Joe Biden,” Sanders responded.

COHN BACKS '50%' OF DEM RELIEF PLAN: Gary Cohn, the former director of the National Economic Council under President Trump, said Sunday he agrees with half of the coronavirus relief package approved Friday by House Democrats. “I agree with 50 percent of what Speaker [Nancy Pelosi] was saying,” Cohn said on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” referring to a separate interview the California Democrat had earlier on the same show discussing the HEROES Act that Democrats passed.“So part of the HEROES Act was to get money or is to get money to the states, to the state and local government. And I do think that is very important,” Cohn said.

NO 'CROCODILE TEARS' FROM SEN. JOHNSON: Senate Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said Sunday that he’s not “crying big crocodile tears” over the Trump administration’s firing of a State Department inspector general. “I spoke with senior officials in the White House and State Department to understand their reasoning, I don't know whether they are going to provide any more robust rationale for why they did it, but I understand. I don't disagree with it,” Johnson said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”


HOUSE PREVIEW: The House will work remotely through May 27, per a Democratic leadership aide. However, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Friday that some members may return to Washington this week for committee meetings, Axios' Alayna Treene reports. Tuesday: Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie will testify before the House appropriations subcommittee about his department’s coronavirus response.

Wednesday: The House Education and Labor subcommittee will hold a hearing on protecting workers from the coronavirus.

SENATE PREVIEW: The Senate will vote on the following nominees, per a spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: Scott Rash as a U.S. District Judge for the District of Arizona. James Trainor III as a Member of the Federal Election Commission. Anna Manasco as a U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Alabama. John Heil III as a U.S. District Judge for the Northern, Eastern and Western Districts of Oklahoma. John Leonard Badalamenti as a District Judge for the Middle District of Florida. Tuesday: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell will testify before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee on economic relief during coronavirus. Wednesday: The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a confirmation for Brian Miller, Trump’s nominee for special inspector general for pandemic recovery.


COVID: WHARTON MODEL PREDICTS 23K DEATHS IN STATE - As Marion County trails behind almost all of Indiana in reopening after the coronavirus shutdown this spring, a national economic model predicts that the state runs the risk of trading jobs for lives if it moves too quickly in putting Hoosiers back to work (McQuaid, CBS4). A model developed by The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania considers the variables of full and partial reopening of Indiana’s economy and behavioral changes by Hoosiers in the wake of this spring’s pandemic shutdown. Should the state immediately reopen to pre-pandemic levels and residents revert back to the same social distancing behaviors they practiced before the coronavirus arrived, the Indiana Gross Domestic Product would still be off at least 9.5% compared to a year ago while employment would skyrocket. If Indiana were to put the pedal to the economic rebound metal immediately, by mid-July there would be 373,062 cases of coronavirus in Indiana and 23,087 deaths. “Finding the sweet spot is tricky. It’s related not only to the social distancing, the degree of partial lockdown, but also the degree to which there are behaviors associated with wearing masks,” said Dr. Timothy Slaper, co-director of the Indiana Business Research Center at the IU Kelley School of Business.

ISDH: MUNCIE OFFICIALS CRITICIZE STATE OVER PPE - Local officials have expressed concern over what they perceive as a lack of communication and ineffective implementation of strategy from the state as it combats the coronavirus pandemic (Muncie Star Press). Jason Rogers, director of Delaware County Emergency Management, said he was “less than impressed” with the Indiana State Department of Health in its sharing of data and delivery of resources.  “Everything, as it’s related to this emergency, has been underwhelming at best,” Rogers said. “We received a laughable amount of PPE equipment for the size of our community ... first responders got nearly nothing.” Rogers said they were given no notice when the state's "rapid response teams" were deployed in the county to assist local nursing homes that have reported high numbers of cases. Further, he and other officials have said efforts to obtain information on COVID-19 testing implementation and progress have been frustrated by a lack of communication from the ISDH.

DCS: JUDGE ALLOWS AGENCY TO BE SUED - A child advocacy group is praising a federal judge’s decision that allows most of a lawsuit to move forward accusing Indiana’s child welfare agency of inadequately protecting thousands of children in its care (Indiana Public Media). U.S. District Court Judge Richard Young’s Wednesday ruling allows two of three counts to go forward in the lawsuit, which was filed last July against the Indiana Department of Child Services, The Journal Gazette reported. The suit alleges that DCS doesn’t protect 22,000 children with open child welfare cases, including more than 14,000 in out-of-home care. “This is a great victory for the children of Indiana,” said Marcia Robinson Lowry, the attorney for A Better Childhood, one of two child advocacy groups that joined the law firm Kirkland & Ellis in suing the state agency on behalf of nine foster children.

LOTTERY: PAYMENT OFFICE OPEN BY APPOINTMENT - The Hoosier Lottery says that beginning Monday its prize payment offices in Indianapolis, Mishawaka and Evansville will re-open by appointment only for in-person redemption of prizes of $600 or more (Indiana Public Media). To schedule an appointment, players should call 1-800-955-6886. Due to social distancing guidelines during the coronavirus outbreak, all appointments must be scheduled in advance. Same-day appointments may not be available. The lottery says prizes up to $599 may be redeemed at Hoosier Lottery retailers.


WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP CALLS OBAMA 'INCOMPETENT PRESIDENT' - President Donald Trump on Sunday dismissed his predecessor as “grossly incompetent,” a day after former President Barack Obama said leaders weren’t “even pretending to be in charge” amid the coronavirus pandemic (Politico). Asked about Obama’s comments, Trump first told a pool of reporters at the White House that administration officials “had a great weekend” during a working trip to Camp David. “We did a lot of terrific meetings, tremendous progress is being made on many fronts, including coming up with a cure for this horrible plague that has beset our country,” he said. When pressed further, Trump added: “Look, he was an incompetent president. That’s all I can say. Grossly incompetent.”

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP RETOOLS TASK FORCE FOR REELECTION - The White House Coronavirus Task Force is shifting its focus to be more in line with Trump's emphasis on reopening (Axios). On Friday, the task force added officials who are experts on the economy and on vaccines and therapeutics. These included Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and NIH director Francis Collins. After reading a New York Times article that criticized his decision to shut down the White House Coronavirus Task Force, the president decided to keep it running indefinitely. An aide said that was for public relations purposes. That said, the task force is not inert. The group has been formulating policy — like the recent CDC guidelines on reopening schools, businesses and mass transit.

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP TEARS INTO '60 MINUTES' - President Trump took aim at CBS News and its flagship news magazine program, "60 Minutes," on Sunday after the program interviewed whistleblower Rick Bright, former head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). In a tweet, the president excoriated CBS and its "third place anchor, @NorahODonnell," whom he accused of "doing everything in their power to demean our Country, much to the benefit of the Radical Left Democrats." "Tonight they put on yet another Fake “Whistleblower”, a disgruntled employee who supports Dems, fabricates stories & spews lies. @60Minutes report was incorrect, which they couldn’t care less about. Fake News!" he tweeted.

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP SCHEDULE - President Trump will participate in a roundtable with "restaurant executives and industry leaders." He will also hold a video teleconference with governors and first lady Melanie Trump. Tuesday: Trump will deliver remarks on farmers, ranchers and the food supply chain. He will also hold a meeting with his Cabinet. Wednesday: Trump will meet with Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) and Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D). Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Orlando, Florida, to meet with Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). He'll also deliver personal protective equipment to a nursing home and attend a roundtable with officials from the tourism and hospitality industry.


EVANSVILLE: FEDS TO PROVIDE FOOD SECURITY ASSISTANCE — The city of Evansville will soon be receiving technical assistance from two federal government offices to address food insecurity and economic issues (Doyle, Evansville Courier & Press). According to a news release from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA and U.S. Department of Agriculture, under the banner of the Local Foods, Local Places program, will help develop a multi-use food center at the current site of Tri-State Food Bank, 801 Michigan Avenue.

GARY: MAYOR PRINCE KEEPS ORDER IN PLACE UNTIL MAY 22 - Gary Mayor Jerome Prince says he’s leaving a stay-home order in place until May 22, with restaurants, stores and personal-service businesses remaining closed until two days later, May 24. Nearly one-fifth of Lake County’s 2,700 coronavirus cases are in Gary, one of the highest infection rates in the state (WIBC). City health department director Roland Walker says the city was continuing to add double-digit cases until Thursday, and says Thursday’s drop is the result of a brief shortage of testing supplies. Prince says he’s as eager as everyone else to start getting back to normal, but says with infection rates still high, it’s better to remain cautious. He says when stores and restaurants do reopen, they’ll be limited to one-quarter of their normal capacity, at the same time the rest of the state is ramping up to three-quarters capacity.

GARY: SCHOOLS SEEK END TO STATE TAKEOVER - Representatives of the debt-plagued Gary Community School Corp. have presented an Indiana panel with a three-year plan for ending the state’s takeover of the northwestern Indiana school district (Indiana Public Media). Indiana’s Distressed Unit Appeal Board, the state entity responsible for overseeing Indiana’s takeover of troubled school districts, heard the plan from the Gary district’s turnaround partner during a Thursday virtual public webinar. MGT Consulting was contracted by the state in 2017 to handle the district’s financial and academic transformation after years of mounting debt and failing state performance rankings led to the state intervention, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported.

SOUTH BEND: HOMELESS CAMP TO BE DISPERSED - The owner of a vacant lot where about 50 homeless people have been camped in tents, south of downtown at 520 S. Michigan St., says he’ll ask them to move out early this week (Dits, South Bend Tribune). Owner Edward Bradley said concerns over the spread of COVID-19 is one of the key reasons. He said he’s been in constant contact with Mayor James Mueller and city leaders and supports their efforts to find an alternative place for the homeless to land, including local shelters. He said he hopes for it to “happen peacefully and that none of the individuals lose any of their belongings in the process.” As of Sunday, it wasn’t clear exactly where the people would go.

INDIANAPOLIS: ANTELOPE CLUB REOPENING JUNE 1 - Given the announcement this week from Mayor Hogsett, our opening will be delayed. If there are no other restrictions between now and then, the earliest we could open is Monday, June 1.

SCHERERVILLE: COUNCIL EYES FIREFIGHTER INSURANCE HIKE — An increase to the town's firefighter insurance policy hangs in the balance while council members discuss alternative rates (Freda, NWI Times). Recently, the Town Council approved various changes to the town personnel policy manual for fire department supplemental policies regarding extra duty shift guidelines and policies related to overtime, staffing and injuries. When bringing the changes outlined in Ordinance No. 1956 to a vote, Ward 1 Councilwoman Robin Arvanitis made a motion to approve the policy, along with increasing the firefighter's VFIS insurance policy to $1,000. Currently, the town pays $800 weekly through the VFIS policy to employees who are unable to work because of an on-duty related injury and cannot be assigned to light duty work.